The purpose of this three-wave longitudinal study was twofold. First, prevalence data on alcohol characteristics (e.g., drinks per day, heavy episodic drinking [HED]) were provided for a community sample of middle-aged adults. Aggregate (or group) and individual levels of stability of these characteristics across a 10-year interval were a major focus. Second, an actor–partner interdependence model (APIM) was used to test husbands’ and wives’ mutual influences on each other’s alcohol use.
Prospective data were collected from the middle-aged parents of a cohort study that originally targeted adolescents. Three measurement occasions occurred at baseline, 5 years later, and an additional 5 years later. Data from 597 men and 847 women were used to derive prevalence data on alcohol use, and 489 intact marital dyads were used to test spouses’ interdependence on alcohol use and HED in the APIMs.
The majority of men and women reported alcohol use at each measurement occasion, and the average number of drinks per day was highly similar across time, as was the percentage reporting HED. There was substantial stability at the individual level in the amount of alcohol consumed and HED between waves of measurement. Marital partners had significant but modest effects on each other’s alcohol use. Wives had a somewhat greater influence on their husbands’ drinking than vice versa.